Hail the Prince of Peace
INDIA had not experienced such a mob scene since the death of Gandhi. More than a million villagers and city folk thronged New Delhi’s streets waving and shouting “Eisenhower zindabad!” (“Long live Eisenhower!”) “Eisenhower ki jai!” (“Hail Eisenhower!”) Above the hue and cry stretched red and white banners proclaiming: “EISENHOWER—PRINCE OF PEACE.”
From the road over which the official car had passed, a forty-five-year-old villager snatched a fistful of sand to carry home to his ailing wife. “I shall apply this on my wife’s forehead, and she is sure to be cured,” he explained. In his opinion Eisenhower and Nehru are “among God’s chosen children sent specially to this earth to serve his will.”
An old woman and her family made the journey believing they would see a reincarnation of Vishnu, protector in the Hindu trinity. “Do you think we were fools to travel miles to see anyone but Vishnu Ka Avatar? Did he not send us wheat when we needed it and build us dams?” Her daughter agreed, adding that the visitor had a “divine, radiant smile.”
However flattering the stupendous greeting may have appeared to the presidential party, many Christians around the world saw reasons for grave misgivings in all this. Some recalled the time King Herod Agrippa I began a public speech and was interrupted by blasphemous shouts: “A god’s voice, and not a man’s!” Sacred history reports: “Instantly the angel of Jehovah struck him, because he did not give the glory to God.” (Acts 12:22, 23) The New Delhi greeting went even farther by misappropriating a sacred prophecy about Christ, the Prince of Peace, and applying it to a human ruler. It is not amiss to re-examine this prophecy in the light of man’s present quest for peace.
The Near East continued to rock with conspiracies and war when the spirit of Jehovah moved Isaiah’s pen. The growing world power of Assyria was about to unleash its war machine again. Wrote Isaiah:
“However, the obscureness will not be as when the land had stress, as at the former time when one treated with contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali and when at the later time one caused it to be honored—the way by the sea, in the region of the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people that were walking in the darkness have seen a great light. As for those dwelling in the land of deep shadow, light itself has shone upon them. You have made the nation populous; for it you have made the rejoicing great. They have rejoiced before you as with the rejoicing in the harvesttime, as those who are joyful when they divide up the spoil.
“For the yoke of their load and the rod upon their shoulders, the staff of the one driving them to work, you have shattered to pieces as in the day of Midian. For every boot of the one tramping with tremors and the garment rolled in blood have even come to be for burning as food for fire. For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us, and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Father for eternity, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.”—Isa. 9:1-7.
Zebulun and Naphtali, to which Isaiah makes special reference, lay in the northern extremity of Israel and included the district of Galilee. That “land had stress,” since it was often the first to be conquered by invaders of Israel and was therefore the longest under enemy occupation. Kings from Syria and Assyria had swooped down on Zebulun and Naphtali inflicting deep wounds. Naphtali bordered the entire western shore of Lake Gennesaret (Galilee) and travelers from East to West would also view it as in the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, so it was fittingly described by Isaiah as “the way by the sea.” It was also called “Galilee of the nations” because many foreigners settled in this mountainous land. Deliverance was promised to the inhabitants of this land.—1 Ki. 15:20; 2 Ki. 15:29.
“A GREAT LIGHT”
In 2 B.C., as foretold, ‘a child was born to us’ in Bethlehem, of the royal line of Judah. He was Jesus. His parents raised him in Nazareth, however, so his youthful training was native Galilean. A.D. 29, when God’s time schedule recorded by Daniel arrived, Jesus was anointed, becoming the Messiah. (Dan. 9:24, 25) Thereafter, the long-promised light began to glow brilliantly by the Sea of Galilee, as Jesus began his public ministry. The former tax collector Matthew, under inspiration, interprets Isaiah’s prophecy, which then had been eight centuries awaiting:
“Further, after leaving Nazareth, he came and took up residence in Capernaum beside the sea in the districts of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘O land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, along the road of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the nations! the people sitting in darkness saw a great light, and as for those sitting in a region of the shadow of death light dawned upon them.’ From that time on Jesus commenced preaching and saying: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’”—Matt. 4:13-17.
Yes, it was by preaching the good news of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus, and with him his faithful disciples, caused the light to shine to the people in the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali who had so long been “sitting in darkness.” “He went around throughout the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every kind of disease and every kind of infirmity among the people.” He showed them that lasting peace and freedom from oppression would come by means of God’s kingdom. By means of him “those sitting in a region of the shadow of death” were enabled to gain life, because he gave his life “a ransom in exchange for many.” He is the one Jehovah used to shed light on the means whereby men could gain life.—Matt. 4:23; 20:28.
This light promising deliverance from death and oppression—all backed up and enforced by the government of God—was not restricted to men of Galilee. Had not Isaiah foretold that the government’s increase would be without end? Had not the prophets foretold that the Messiah must die a sacrificial death, be resurrected and sit at Jehovah’s right hand until time for the heavenly rule to begin? Fittingly, Jesus’ parting words to his disciples from Galilee before his ascension made it clear that the coming rule of the Prince of Peace involved more than Israel. “You will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.”—Isa. 53:1-12; Ps. 16:10; 110:1; Acts 1:6-11.
Bible prophecy, chronology and modern history pinpoint 1914 as the year when the Prince of Peace began to rule from heaven in the midst of his enemies. By means of an earth-wide witness work from house to house all nations are being called on to “serve Jehovah with fear and be joyful with trembling. Kiss the son, that He may not become incensed and you may not perish from the way, for his anger flares up easily. Happy are all those taking refuge in him.” (Ps. 2:11, 12) As the psalmist foretold, Jehovah has installed his Son as king upon heavenly Mount Zion. Nothing in heaven or earth can successfully withstand world conquest by the reigning Prince of Peace!
Take your Bible and verify the many prophetic evidences that God’s kingdom has begun, with earth-shaking things in store for our generation. (Matt. 24:3-42; Luke 21:7-36) Read of the doom of the presumptuous United Nations world power, the predicted sharp rise in crime and delinquency and the religious hypocrisy in the form of “churchianity” in the time of the end.—Rev. 17:8, 11; Matt. 24:12; 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
These things prove that the Prince of Peace has been enthroned in heaven with ruling power. By means of him, Jehovah will soon make “wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.” (Ps. 46:8, 9) There will be no repetition of world wars or of the eighteen “limited wars” fought from 1945 to 1959, during a time of supposed “peace.” As in the case of ancient Midian, when Jehovah used Gideon to smash the oppressor, so the Prince of Peace will defeat all enemies of God’s kingdom. As Joshua captured enemy chariots and burned them in fire, so shall the Prince of Peace cause “every boot of the one tramping with tremors and the garment rolled in blood” and all other war equipment to be destroyed from the post-Armageddon earth.—Judg. 7:19–8:21; Josh. 11:9; Ezek. 39:8-10.
Of the increase of this peaceful princely rule there shall be no end. That is the thrilling future for those who obey the good news about Christ Jesus, whose wonderful counsel and fatherly kindness will mean life eternal to all who joyfully hail him and not political leaders of the world as the Prince of Peace!
When the righteous become many, the people rejoice; but when anyone wicked bears rule, the people sigh.—Prov. 29:2.